Grocery Store Psychology: Watch Out for These Tricky Marketing Tactics!

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Grocery Store Psychology

Grocery Store Psychology

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Grocery stores employ psychological tricks to try get you to spend more. Check out the below graphic to learn their tricks of the trade. Pro tip: Want to save more on your grocery bill? Print our grocery coupons before you head to the store!

How Grocery Stores Get You To Buy

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Grocery Store Psychology: How They Get You to Spend More

Just left the grocery store spending double what you budgeted? You’ve probably suspected that your neighborhood grocery store has an agenda to get you to put more in your cart. And you’re right.

Stores have some of the most stealthy and clever marketing strategies out there. Take a look at some of the simplest ways these establishments get customers to buy, buy, buy!

A Sensual State of Mind

Stores are out to get you in a mood to buy the minute you walk in the door…via your senses. The best way to grab a customer? Get them feeling hungry!

  • MMM! Smell cookies and bread baking? No surprise the bakery is right by the entry.
  • BTW: That powerful aroma might not even be real. It might be canned!
  • Fresh-smelling flower departments tend to be near entryways too.
  • If smell doesn’t do it, bright and attractive displays catch the eye, suggesting bounty and making you feel like buying bountifully.
  • Finally, there’s a subtle visual element you may not have noticed: Studies prove grocery carts have grown in size over the years…and it costs more money to fill that bigger carriage up!

One Direction

  • Most stores follow the familiar “Drive on the right side” philosophy.  They attempt to move shoppers from right side to left side.
  • Popular items are placed on the right side shelves, too.
  • The most popular items are placed in the center of the aisles (can you figure out why?)
  • Items that “go together” (such as pasta and sauce) are positioned together so you’ll hopefully buy both.
  • Staples such as dairy, eggs, bread, etc. are positioned in the corners far away from each other—so you have to travel the store to get everything you need.
  • All this walking around means you’ll pass by a lot of good-looking items you never even had on your mind originally!

Feeling Green?

  • “Green” and “Organic” are huge trends these days
  • More and more people care about these buzzwords—and are willing to shell out extra bucks when they see them.
  • Fine and well, but be sure you know what you’re getting.
  • “Organic” is a term that can be wildly misused. Even the integrity of USDA Organic seal has come into question in past years.
  • “Green” can mean anything vaguely earmarking the environment.
  • Another hot topic: Non-genetically modified foods (GMOs) are a big draw and can cost more.
  • Consumers themselves can’t agree on a solid definition of all these qualifications, so things can get tricky.
  • If environmental concerns are high on your list, do your research before paying extra.
  • Learn more about GMOs HERE to decide what is best for your family.

The Munchkins

As any parent knows all too well, children can influence what goes in the cart.

  • Marketers spend more than $10 billion a year directly targeting kids
  • Grocery stores love to help make sure they don’t waste their money!
  • It’s not your imagination: Stores really do deliberately place sugary cereals and treats items at kid-friendly eye level.
  • They’re not taking the gum and candy away from the checkout aisle either!
  • If that weren’t enough–watch out for toys, games, and DVDs in checkout as well. Bored/exhausted kids can’t resist…
  • Taking a different tack: Some stores even offer tired parents a full luxury “experience”: Babysitting services, mini-versions of coffee chains like Starbucks, and even free wi-fi…all with an eye toward your wallet, of course.

Ring It Up

Alright, so you managed to resist the packaged snack foods and fresh cookies. You didn’t buy the overpriced “green” item. You left the kids at home… but the store can still “get you” through a numbers game!

  • First, stores like to use “irrational pricing” to get you to think you’re scoring a deal.
  • That means pricing at, say, $2.99 rather than $3. Sounds stupid, but it works.
  • They also get you with “buy x amount” deals. Only need one box of cereal? You’ll get a much better deal if you buy 10!
  • Similarly, stores often put arbitrary maximum purchase limits on items to make them feel like they want more.
  • “Sale limited to 5 per customer” gives shoppers the impression that they are getting a rare bargain!
  • Club cards (loyalty cards like Meijer mPerks) can save you a lot of money buy they usually work this way too. At many stores, you don’t have to buy “two for $5.” You can buy just one for $2.50.
  • But, be careful! Double-check to make certain…some stores do require you buy the number they specify.
  • Finally, be sure to check your receipts. Scanning errors at checkout account for an eye-popping annual $1-2.5 billion loss to consumers, according to reports!

All in all, grocery stores are like any other establishment looking to make a profit. They will put as many obstacles and enticements in your way to keep you in store and putting items in the cart.

It’s up to you to watch out for the traps!

Enjoy your cookies, but shop smarter and you’ll save much more.



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3 Responses to “Grocery Store Psychology: Watch Out for These Tricky Marketing Tactics!”

  1. Anonymous on

    Exactly, I have said this for years! You have to be careful of the ploys that stores use to suck you into purchasing items you really don’t need. It takes will power to be able to avoid these tricks.